MANILA - Filipinos should consistently educate the Chinese why their sweeping claims in the South China Sea is the "fake history of the millennium, the fake news of the century," Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Friday.
Speaking at a forum at the University of the Philippines, Carpio said the Chinese have long been taught that they are the sole owners of the South China Sea and could not access information that shows otherwise because of internet censorship in China.
China claims resource-rich South China Sea in near entirety, while the Philippines refers to its exclusive economic zone in the waters as the West Philippine Sea. Several Chinese incursions have been reported in the Philippine-claimed area.
"I believe the Chinese people are inherently good people, but they have been taught only one historical narrative and it is totally false and we have to get them out of that false mindset," he said.
Carpio said Filipinos should consistently rebut the false territorial assertions of Chinese people even in regular, daily conversations.
"Every time they do this, we have to rebut it. We have to expose it as a historical lie because the more they repeat and repeat this and we don't rebut it, there are people who would think it's true," he said.
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), historical rights are no longer a basis for claiming maritime zones, the magistrate said.
"If you allow that, there will be no stability in our seas," said Carpio, for long an advocate of the country's sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.
"China was there from the very start of the (UNCLOS) negotiations so they cannot say that this was an imposition of Western powers," he said.
"China actively participated, in fact supported the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone," he said.
In response to a Philippine case, a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in 2016 invalidated China's nine-dash line claim to the strategic sea route, where about $5.3 trillion worth of goods pass annually.
But the Duterte administration has not done anything to debunk China's sweeping claims in the strategic waterway, said the magistrate, who was part of the Philippine delegation to the Hague arbitration proceedings as an observer in 2015.
Manila has shelved its arbitral win since 2016 as Duterte forged closer ties with Beijing in exchange for funding for his administration's massive infrastructure push. China has ignored the ruling.
Earlier this week, Duterte drew flak after unilaterally giving China fishing rights in the West Philippine Sea.
"Sabi ko (I said), ‘As far as I'm concerned, I'm the owner, and I'm just giving the fishing rights," the President said in an interview over Pastor Apollo Quiboloy's TV program.
The President's statement followed weeks since a Chinese ship hit and sank a Filipino boat in the disputed waters, which China called an accident. Filipino fishermen in the incident initially said they were rammed but later said they were no longer sure.
The Duterte administration also expressed doubts on the fishermen's narration, citing conflicting statements, while the President called it a "maritime incident.